by Meredith Chilson One of the traditional summer highlights in our rural county has always been the County Fair. For a week in July one of our sleepy little towns becomes a center of activity. Up over the hill, and the first sight is always the Ferris Wheel; there are carnival rides for the very young as well as the very brave. The sounds come next: the loudspeakers from the grandstand, the music, the barkers calling out challenges to passersby and cows mooing in answer. And then the smells of fried foods, candies blended with animals and a bit of diesel fuel from the tractors—all mixed together with dust from the fairway –or mud if it’s a rainy year! There’s just something exciting about a County Fair!
For the most part, our fair is an agricultural fair reflecting the interests of this area. There’s a section of antique steam equipment as well as displays of the newest tractors and lawn mowers. There are buildings housing fire equipment and memorabilia, conservation exhibits and maple syrup production demonstrations. Just as has been done for over a hundred years, ladies exhibit their hand-sewn quilts and woven items; their sparkling canned jams and jellies; their finest crocheted doilies and embroidered wall hangings. Gardeners vie for the largest vegetables and, in the 4-H building youngsters show off their accomplishments and practice public speaking skills while teaching others.
I always make a quick run through most of the buildings and then head to my favorite area—the barns! I admire the sheep and goats. The pigs make me laugh—they are always scrubbed so clean and usually have their heads resting on another pig as they snore away in their pens. Sometimes a child preparing for his first time in a show ring is bathing a cow; often animals are being led around the ring by nervous youngsters anxious to display their livestock in the very best way. There are stalls holding enormous farm horses and cages of small bunnies,…and of course –poultry!
Teven Cline talked to me a bit about his prize winning Call Duck, “Donald” and showed me a very sweet duckling, too. I learned that Call Ducks were originally used as decoy ducks to “call in” wild ducks to hunters. A sign in the duck pen noted that Call Ducks make great pets—as long as you don’t mind how loud they quack!
|Teven Cline and his Grand Champion Call Duck, Donald|
These little ducks were standardized first in Britain, although they may have come from Japan originally. They were often listed as “ornamental ducks” in poultry competitions,. Several colors are recognized officially, and in fact the Cline brothers were exhibiting three or four colors of Call Ducks at our County Fair, but Donald C. Duck the Grand Prize Winner is white.